The AWA consortium includes ten (10) countries (15 including associated partners) and above forty (40) laboratories. Is atrilateral German-French-African Research initiative in Sub-Sahara Africa. Joint proposals by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF/Germany) and the IRD (AIRD/France) under the patronage of the French Ministry for Higher Education and Research (MESR) and Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs (MAEE).Locally implemented by the SRFC Sub Regional Fisheries Commission (Dakar Senegal).

To add a new dimension to the long history of cooperation in Science and Technology (S&T) between Europe and Africa, Germany and France have decided to join their efforts to strengthen cooperation with Sub-Sahara Africa, building on mutual strengths and interests.

Coastal countries in West Africa are heavily dependent on the Atlantic Ocean. Consequently, social development, fisheries, and tourism all face major changes associated with the impact of climate variability and of global warming on their upwelling system. Overexploitation combined with rapid climate change puts marine ecosystems under severe pressure. Local climate variability is one of the causes of coastal erosion and modulates the upper ocean temperature, which determines the suitability of a marine area fish. Chlorophyll concentration influences turbidity and hence the absorption of sunlight, which makes it a limiting factor for the development of fish larva. Finally, the subsurface oxygen minimum, a characteristic of eastern tropical oceans, can severely impact marine life if it rises toward the sea surface. Many fish stocks in the species-rich and highly productive West Africa waters are being depleted, and at present there are few signs of recovery amongst many of the over-fished stocks.

This situation has caused concern among politicians and scientists involved in assessing and managing these fisheries, and also among the people who depend on fisheries for their economic livelihood and, more importantly, for their food. The project described here proposes setting up a strategic partnership capable of developing the vision of an Ecosystem Approach to the Management of the Marine Environment (EAMME, which includes an ecosystem approach to fisheries) in the West Africa waters, and providing the scientific bases this requires. EAMME calls for a multidisciplinary approach combining marine and fishery ecology, biogeochemistry, physical oceanography and climate science. It will also involve a strong monitoring and modeling component.


The principal goal is to permit members States of Sub Regional Fisheries Commission to implement sustainable fisheries management systems in marine environment with biological, economics and socials plans.

The specific objectives are:

  • Strengthening management mechanism fisheries of States members of SRFC ;
  • Outstanding importance in the broader scientific context of the analysis of global climate change and of paramount relevance of their impacts on fisheries resources for West Africa
  • Capacity building students, with institutes researchers and West Africans universities.

The long term goal of the strategic partnership is to develop an ocean observation and modeling platform able to monitor, simulate and forecast some of the most important parameters driving the dynamics of oceanic ecosystems (temperatures, sea level, chlorophyll and oxygen levels), and the key resources for marine life off continental West Africa.

Strategic Approach

The project calls for a multidisciplinary approach comprising marine and fisheries ecology, biogeochemistry, physical oceanography, climate research, economy and earth observation data from space. The strategic approach will be using the time series analyses, dedicated process studies and experiments at sea, as well as applying various statistical and numerical modeling approaches to new and existing monitoring data in order to study the seasonal to long term dynamics of West Africa marine ecosystems, and the forces driving them.

Project components

AWA project is subdivided in five technical’s components. Each component is break down an activities and task each year. The components were following:

  • Component 1: Observations and modeling of ocean physics supporting the ecosystem approach to marine management;
  • Component 2: Variability of pelagic productivity in West-African waters;
  • Component 3: Physical-biogeochemical coupling: processes and small pelagic fish control;
  • Component 4: Economics integrated into the ecosystem approach to marine management;
  • Component 5: Education, Training and Capacity-building.

Project management

The SRFC is responsible of the project management is done through the Component Zero of the initiative. The tripartite coordination is delegated to Patrice Brehmer (IRD). Heino Fock (VTI) follow ore specifically the activities in Germany and the SRFC the activities led in West Africa.

Expected results

The expected results are the following:

  • The main processes which drive ecosystem dynamics are identified and their knowledge improved;
  • Disentangling the effects of fishing and climate change is done ;
  • The knowledge of the interplay between ocean physics, biogeochemistry, marine life and human impact is strengthened;
  • The EAMME tools are developed;
  • A more rational and sustainable use of living marine resources is achieved.
  • Build the foundation of a West African observatory.
  • Create a sub-regional task force on the ecosystem approach to the management of fisheries and the marine environment in West African waters under the effect of climate change.
News related to the project: 
  • 2nd International Conference AWA “ICAWA 2015” - Ecosystem approach to the management of fisheries and the marine environment in West African waters. More...
  • Workshop of the AWA project to present the scientific results to stakeholders in the community of Yenn Todd. More...
  • 1st International Conference on “Ecosystem approach to the management of fisheries and the marine environment in West African waters” (ICAWA). More...
  • Visit of the oceanographic vessel Thalassa in Dakar - Assessment of AWA scientific campaign. More...
  • Workshop to launch the Project “AWA” - Ecosystem-based approach to fisheries and marine environment management in West African waters. More...
  • Book of abstract - 2nd International Conference ICAWA 2015
  • Book of abstract - 1e International Conference ICAWA 2014
  • Presentation flyer of the project